NEWLAND — As Avery County’s real estate market continues to see high profits and plenty of interested buyers, many are still looking for affordable housing.
At the Sept. 7 Avery County Board of Commissioners meeting, Michelle Ball with the High Country Council of Governments presented about the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Using grant funds, Ball said the program funds help low income residents with housing assistance in the form of home replacement.
Ball said this year the program is looking to help five families in Avery County. According to county manager Phillip Barrier, nine applications have been submitted.
“Right now it’s hard to get contractors for small projects,” Ball said. Amidst the recent boom in the construction industry, those who need affordable home repairs are struggling to afford those services.
The CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization Program builds double wide, and infrequently single wide, homes and demolishes the old, dilapidated houses they are replacing. Outside of the home replacements, Ball said that WAMY Community Action has been doing emergency repairs for projects less than $5,000 using money they had from weatherization funds.
Previously, Avery County has operated this project with funding granted in 2018. Four families were able to move into new, healthy and safe houses, according to Ball. The average cost of each house was $117,395, which Ball said was on par with the houses constructed for around $115,000 per house in Mitchell County through the same program.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must own and occupy their house on a full-time basis as well as have an income 80% below the median income for Avery County. The property must be in Avery County and cannot be in a floodplain.
Housing continued to be the theme for the meeting as the commissioners unanimously approved the plans for nine lots for Eagles Nest. Unlike a number of Eagles Nest developments in Avery, these lots are all planned to be less than three-quarters of an acre. Built a bit more densely in a planned unit development (PUD), this construction will feature more of the acreage going toward green spaces. Derek Buchanan, representing Eagles Nest, said these houses will provide options at the lower end of the price points for Eagles Nest in Avery County.
Sheriff Kevin Frye presented Commissioner Tim Phillips and Tim’s brother, Mark, with a plaque dedicated to their late father, former Avery County Sheriff Clinton Phillips. Frye said that Phillips was an important mentor to him and achieved many significant accomplishments during his time with Avery County’s law enforcement, including working as the county sheriff for eight years, beginning the DARE program and K-9 unit.
The detective’s office will now be called the Clinton Phillips Drug Enforcement Division, with a commemorative plaque at the office in his honor.
The next county commissioners meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 20, at the Commission Boardroom at the County Administrative Building. At 4 p.m. during the meeting there will be a public hearing regarding transportation.
Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.